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The free or cheap plugins/virtual instruments thread.

Guifrog

Blue Frog with a Squid
I know a bunch of bananas:

https://www.flstudiomusic.com/
Apart from the domain name, it's a blog being constantly updated (like, last post was yesterday) with new deals, free software, VST plugins, soundfonts and there's many categories, from synths to instrument emulators. For instance, that's where I got SpicyGuitar - worth a shot if you're soloing, specially for the higher octaves. CONS: some of their links are broken/outdated :(

soundfonts.darkesword.com
Many different, free soundfonts and a decompressor for packed sf2, courtesy of a very well-known OverClocked ReMixer. The harp is particularly BEAUTIFUL and has some cool articulations based on velocity. He gives an interesting description to how he perceives each of those instruments, to which I agree with and they're definitely good enough for a start. CONS: The Tgsf21x has an enormous amount of instruments in one single GM soundfont to choose from, and some of those are good (church organ, bells, harp, pizzicato violins), but somehow it can really slow down the rendering process. Same goes for Squidfont Orchestral.

https://www.chineekong.com/freebies
If you're into asian type of music, I recommend these! I've actually used it for a track of mine that's available commercially. Cons: I can hear some distortion when I play a few of the notes from the Guzheng, though I wouldn't say it's a dealbreaker.

Products Archive - Impact Soundworks
Now this one's very suitable for professional work. Just a few of their products are free and they require kontakt (some are available for the free Kontakt Player version, but most of them aren't), but I thought I'd mention it for the spiraringly otherworldly quality of their virtual instruments, and the priced ones... just check some of them and listen to the previews. I personally love their japanese ($99) and indian ($79) collections.

zero-project.gr: Help/Music programs
THE MOST FANTASTIC WEBSITE OF THEM ALL! *grins* I mean, this is the official website of a greek artist who inspired and helped me a lot regarding digital distribution and music licensing, not to mention the huge collection of websites he lists regarding music making softwares, VSTs and so on. Just check it out and have fun!
 
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2a03fox

the only fox top
milkytracker.titandemo.org: MilkyTracker | Downloads
pretty sure most people know about it already, but milkytracker is a great way to write music. it's a tracker, not a daw. a lot of classic techno was made in tracker software. mod archive has a bunch of tracks you can import and see how they're made, which makes learning easy. brandon walsh also has a solid tutorial series on youtube.
 

anonfoxer

trans girl, arctic fox, dingus.
has vital been mentioned yet?

Vital.

Free, with multiple payed versions available.
Multiple oscillator wavetable based synth with modulation, wavetable viewing, and FX Rack similar to XFer's Serum, and an oscillator layout similar to Massive.

Completely customizable GUI, incredibly powerful, still very new to the scene.

Edit, some more


Spitfire Audio's LABS
Multiple sound libraries for use in one plugin. Requires their launcher to install the libraries, but they are the most natural sounding instruments for a digital synth you will ever hear

Spitfire Audio's BBC Symphony Orchestra
VST based on sounds recorded from the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Free, requires their launcher, and makes you wait 2 weeks after filling out a quiz to get it.

ADHD's Leveling Tool
Free analog compressor.

XFer's OTT and Dimension Expander
OTT - Upward Downwards multiband compressor. Basically MSG for music.
Dimension Expander - Stereo Width expander.
 
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